A lot of people have become quite excited by the idea that muscle mass and bulking is a great way to stay healthy, fit, and lean. Many people believe they can burn fat easier and quicker by having stronger muscles. It is thought that lean muscles can help boost your metabolism, and workouts designed to build them can shred the fat quicker than cardio. There are, of course, many variables involved and one rule doesn’t fit all. Still, with so many diets pushing the power of protein, perhaps it’s worth exploring the relationship between protein and muscle more closely.
The body needs strength in muscles for many activities. Firstly, the muscles support your skeletal frame. You need sufficient strength and flexibility to maintain a good posture. That posture will aid many movements, your digestions, circulation, and nervous system too. Poor posture can lead to injuries, balance problems, accidents in sports, and trapped nerves. There are, of course, many muscles inside the body that work hard too. Your diaphragm is part of a muscle system that aids efficient breathing. Your heart pumps blood around the body. And your tongue is used continuously in breathing, eating, and talking.
Needless to say, your diet, must be good enough to support all these muscles in performing their basic functions. This is where protein comes in, although it is often the amino acids that are of prime importance. Feeding the muscles will help them perform better. They need a healthy blood supply, flexibility to move, hydration from water, and a healthy nervous system. Muscle wasting can occur from lack of use, some medical conditions, trapped nerves, and poor diet.
Protein is found most commonly in meat. The highest quantities naturally found are thought to be derived from red meat like lean beef. This, of course, doesn’t suit everyone. That is why there is an enormous market for protein supplements. Vegetarians don’t need to turn to supplements to find a healthy amount of protein from other natural sources, though. Nut, lentils, beans, and spinach can all provide a protein portion that is adequate for good muscle health.
So why would you need more protein? The trouble with supplements is they can contain extra ingredients that you may not want. Typically, you can find a range of amino acids like D-Aspartic acid, caffeine, refined sugar sources, and wheat. These ingredients don’t suit everybody. It’s also important to consider what the body actually needs from protein too. Someone seeking to gain muscle might want to consume 0.7g of protein per pound of body weight. This is quite high. Too much protein can be harmful as it may cause a build-up of ketones. Calorie balance here is essential too.
Ketones must be removed by the kidneys so you may become dehydrated. This puts all of your internal organs under a lot of stress. There are calories in many protein sources so weight gain could occur. If you’re drastically reducing carbs for a protein-rich diet, you may not gain any extra muscle. The protein would instead be used for energy. Getting the balance right is hard.
Building a lot of muscle will make your body heavier. This can put additional pressure on your skeleton and leave you vulnerable to injury. Calcium is important for the bones, but most bone development is complete by the early twenties. Protecting what you have is essential. It’s good to have lean muscles that are flexible and toned. You’ll have the strength and the power where you need it, without impacting on your frame or posture in a negative way. Yes, you may weigh a little more, but you should feel better balanced and fitter for it.
Of course, a varied program of exercise is best to ensure all-round physical health. If you’re too heavy, you won’t be able to run as far or as fast as someone who is slender. Consider what you need your body to do for you. Which activities do you value? If you are a competitive body builder, running may not be on your agenda anyway.
Taking care of the muscles you’re building is essential. Every bodybuilder knows that rest days are essential to let the muscles repair. This is when the muscles become larger and stronger. You also need to maintain flexibility. Using the muscles can cause them to ‘tear.’ The healing process of knitting those fibers together is what builds the muscle. This can also cause tightness, inflammation, and pain. Stretch it out, keep hydrated, and enjoy what your body can do for you.